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Last Tango? Artisanal fishing in Tanga, Tanzania

Beckley, L.E. (1999) Last Tango? Artisanal fishing in Tanga, Tanzania. In: 10th Southern African Marine Science Symposium (SAMSS 2000): Land, Sea and People in the New Millennium, 22 - 26 November, Wilderness, South Africa.


The Tanga region along the north-eastern coast of Tanzania is characterized by fringing and patch coral reefs, seagrass beds, mangrove forests, esturaries and embayments. The 0.3 million inhabitants rely heavily on harvesting marine resources from these ecosystems for their livelihoods. The coastal fisheries are open access, artisanal in nature and catch a wide diversity of fishes and invertebrates. Fisheries statistics for the region show that the number of fishers has increased steadily whilst the total catch has declined. Most indicators point to a combination of growth, recruitment, ecological and Malthusian over-fishing in the region as a result of the use of destructive fishing practices such as dynamite, small mesh nets and poisons. The Tanga Coastal Zone Conservation and Development Programme was initiated in 1994 in an effort to introduce participatory, community-based integrated coastal zone management in the region. Subsequently the Oceanographic Research Institute was requested to evaluate the activities of the programme with regard to artisanal fisheries and to assist in developing a management strategy for artisanal fisheries in Tanga. Indicators to monitor the fishery were recommended whilst fisheries enhancement methods and best-use options for degraded areas were examined. In view of the nature of the artisanal fishery in Tanga and the capacity at government level in Tanzania, co-management was recommended for the Tanga region. Permanent fishery reserves or closed areas appear to be the only suitable management tool for the multi-species reef fishery. A drastic reduction in fishing effort is necessary in order that populations of reef fishes can recover and alternative sources of income such as mariculture, agriculture and tourism will have to be developed. Further, the Tanzanian government has to take responsibility for the eradication of dynamite fishing along the coast and international pressure should be brought to bear on the country in this regard.

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